Among the victims of the Waukesha parade tragedy was an aspiring young dancer who was able to remain a bright spirit despite the trauma.
“Even when I spoke to her this morning on the phone, she said to me, ‘Tell them to just glue me back together,'” said Ryan Kohnke, uncle of 11-year-old Jessalyn Torres, The Sun reported.
Torres was one of the parade dancers attending the festive event on Sunday, Nov. 21. Her mother, a single mom of five, was also there with her 2-year-old sister.
It could have been a lovely moment for the family until a reckless SUV plowed through the crowd and hit more than 50 people, killing at least five. A sixth victim has been confirmed dead on Tuesday by prosecutors.
Torres survived the hit, which threw her into the air, according to her family. But the young playful dancer was left with multiple injuries and fighting for her life.
The Sun reported that Torres lost a kidney because of the collision. She was also struggling with a broken pelvis, lacerations on her lungs, and internal and kidney bleedings. Fortunately, the doctors said she was stable and ready for surgery.
They also put her under incubation to stabilize her condition.
According to Kohnke, Torres had been a delightful character before the Sunday tragedy.
“Jessalyn loves to dance, she loves her team and her friends,” he said. “She’s a stubborn, energetic, wonderful child, caring and adventurous.”
According to her family, Torres’s mother currently has a lot on her hands as she also has four other children to look after as a single mother. But the child’s father has also been with her through the process.
“Her mom and dad are with her now at the hospital, they will not be leaving her side,” said her uncle, noting there was an outpouring of support from the community.
“People reaching out wanting to donate meals. We’re organizing things,” Kohnke added.
A Go Fund Me account for Torres has been set up by her family.
Suspect Darrell Brooks, the person behind the wheel, was initially charged with five counts of first-degree intentional homicide following the death of at least five victims. He is facing a life sentence if convicted.